Keeneland kicks off its 2019 Spring Meet on Thursday, April 4, with a community-wide celebration headlined by an afternoon of racing starting at 3 p.m. ET followed by the popular Central Bank Thursday Night Live, to be held in the track’s scenic Paddock area.
“Keeneland is an iconic gathering place for the community – it’s a rite of spring,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. “Hosting Central Bank Thursday Night Live makes opening day even more special as we invite fans to be part of a great day of Thoroughbred racing and live music in this beautiful setting.”
Keeneland is teaming with the Downtown Lexington Partnership to host Central Bank Thursday Night Live for the first time at the track.
“This is a great way to kick off the arrival of spring with a combined opening day at Keeneland and Central Bank Thursday Night Live,” Terry Sweeney, President & CEO of Downtown Lexington Partnership said. “We are excited to partner with Keeneland to bring Lexington this exciting entertainment experience. Central Bank Thursday Night Live will return to its traditional downtown location April 11 and occur every Thursday through Oct. 10.”
“We believe our support of the Downtown Lexington Partnership and Keeneland are two important ways we support the growth, prosperity and success of the areas we serve,” said Luther Deaton, Chairman, President and CEO of Central Bank. “Joining with these longtime partners to add a special Central Bank Thursday Night Live to support the Spring Meet is a thrill and a wonderful opportunity. We can’t wait for April 4 to welcome a weekend of festivities for Central Kentucky.”
On April 4, music provided in partnership with The Burl, a popular live music venue in Lexington, will be featured in the Paddock during the race day. Drink specials also will be offered.
Information on reserved seating and dining reservations for opening day is available on Keeneland.com. Race-day parking is free and General Admission to the track is $5.
In celebration of opening day, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has proclaimed Thursday, April 4, as “Keeneland Day in the Bluegrass!”
“Just when we think winter will never be over, it’s spring and it’s Keeneland,” Gorton said. “The beauty of the horses, the excitement of the racing, the spring flowers in bloom … there’s nothing quite like it anywhere.”
Keeneland’s Spring and Fall race meets represent $123 million in direct spending and $200 million in total economic impact to Fayette County. The Thursday opening offers an additional day of racing, benefiting horsemen and generating more area tourism dollars and spending at local restaurants, bars, hotels and retail shops.
“Keeneland’s April race meet ushers in spring each year and is a cornerstone of tourism activity and dollars spent, driving significant impact to our city,” Mary Quinn Ramer, President of VisitLex, said. “We are thrilled Keeneland has added an extra day of racing as it allows our visitors an additional opportunity to enjoy world-class racing as well as visit our bourbon distilleries, overnight in our hotels, discover our heritage and explore our abundant culinary offerings.”
Keeneland will open its Spring Meet on Thursday for the first time since 1959, marking the start of a blockbuster weekend of racing with nine stakes anchored by the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) and $500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1), major preps for the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively, on Saturday, April 6.
Gates open at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, with the first race slated for 3 p.m. Among the eight races on the card, which concludes at approximately 6:55 p.m., is the inaugural running of the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds at 5½ furlongs on the grass.